WINNER OF THE WEEK: Denzel Washington. At a time when not even Will Smith or Johnny Depp can guarantee box office success, 58-year-old Washington remains about as close to a sure thing as Hollywood has. Aside from his specialty drama The Great Debaters, Washington's 2 Guns marks the actor's 11th straight opening above $20 million. In fact, at an estimated $27.4 million, this weekend's top movie is also the fifth-best opening of his career.
Universal predicted the film would only open in the low twenties, though the studio may have been low-balling in order to make the movie look like it overperformed. It actually opened around where most pundits had predicted it would. Considering that the buddy action-comedy cost just $61 million to make (pretty cheap considering that Washington and Mark Wahlberg are two of the best-paid stars in Hollywood), it should have little trouble making a profit.
2 Guns beat a slate of older releases that held up reasonably well. Last week's champ, The Wolverine, lost 59 percent of last week's business, which is typical for X-Men movies, but even with that decline, it still finished second with an estimated $21.7 million. Horror hit The Conjuring was fourth with an estimated $13.7 million, enough to cross the $100 million mark on Saturday, its 16th day of release. Despicable Me 2 rounded out the top five with an estimated $10.4 million, for a whopping $326.7 million over 33 days.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Neil Patrick Harris. Not only did he not land the Oscar-hosting gig, but his The Smurfs 2 underwhelmed with a third-place opening estimated at $18.2 million from Friday to Sunday. (Since its opening Wednesday, it earned $27.8 million, about what 2 Guns earned in three days.) The original Smurfs opened on the same weekend two years ago, but it earned about twice as much over three days ($35.6 million) and 40 percent more over five days ($46.3 million). It even opened lower than the five-day debut of recent cartoon flop Turbo ($31.0 million), which doesn't bode well for the rest of the film's run.
Not that Sony is complaining; after all, the movie earned another estimated $52.5 million overseas, for a global total of $80.3 million. Once again, the foreign box office comes to the rescue of the domestic box office. Nonetheless, Smurfs 2 might have done better at home had it not come so late in the season, well after Monsters University and Despicable Me 2. (Then again, with Planes opening soon, Smurfs 2 may just get lost in the family-film shuffle.)
'SPECTACULAR' WOW: Sundance favorite The Spectacular Now opened on just four screens, but it earned an average of $50,000 on each of them. That's the biggest per-screen average of the week by far. (2 Guns opened with $9,045 per venue.) Also excelling at the art house: Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, which expanded from six screens to 50 and averaged $40,440 on each of them, for an estimated $2.0 million weekend. (With $3.0 million to date, it's slightly ahead of where recent Allen smash Midnight in Paris was at the same point in its release.) And Lindsay Lohan's much anticipated art-house erotic thriller The Canyons, which debuted this weekend on video-on-demand cable and in one theater, earned a respectable $15,200 on that lone screen.